DID YOU READ

“Kidnapped,” Reviewed

“Kidnapped,” Reviewed (photo)

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Originally reviewed at Fantastic Fest 2010.

A hallmark of Spanish horror in recent years has been the long take, something that’s been perfected by the disciples of Guillermo del Toro like “The Orphanage”‘s Juan Antonio Bayona and “Julia’s Eyes”‘s Guillem Morales and the filmmakers behind shockers like “[REC].” Of course, slow burns have always been part of the genre, but the lack of cutaways feel particularly disconcerting to an increasing ADD generation and have been used to convey a reality to the terrifying creep of zombies, ghosts and other monsters of the night. Strangely, the trend towards unflinching takes has largely ignored the horror potential of actual reality, something that writer/director Miguel Ángel Vivas appears to be well aware in his arresting sophomore feature.

I wasn’t counting, but I’d be surprised to learn if there were more than 50 cuts in “Kidnapped,” Vivas’ 86-minute endurance test about the home invasion of a well-to-do family who just moved into their new home in the Madrid suburbs. “Kidnapped” (or as the subtitles reveal its original title “Hostages”) doesn’t stray far from the formula one has come to expect of such films, save for a blistering opening sequence that shows the aftermath for a previous victim. There are three thieves, dressed in black, and a family of three, whose only conflict appears to be that their 18-year-old daughter Isa (Manuela Vellés) wants to go out with her boyfriend instead of partaking in a housewarming dinner. She is halfway out the door when the burglars burst through a glass window on the side of the house and proceed to tie up the women and dispatch one man to take the family’s patriarch Jaime (Fernando Cayo) out to collect money from various ATMs.

Whereas most filmmakers would derive their tension from the unknown, Vivas divides the screen into two as Jaime drives around the city to empty out his bank accounts and Isa and her mother Marta (Ana Wagener) are tortured by the two thieves who are waiting for Jaime to return. One can see the fear and uncertainty in Jaime’s eyes as he suspects the worst and Vivas simultaneously shows the audiences that what is actually happening to Jaime’s wife and daughter isn’t too far off. The split-screen is really the only concession Vivas seems willing to make to break the reality he’s constructed, not partaking in the darkly comic sense of humor or reaction shots for the usual pockets of relief. Sometimes the camera is trained on the floor or a shelf with family pictures on it as the echo of conversations trickle in the background, but for the most part in “Kidnapped,” the more you know, the more you clench your teeth.

Ironically, you don’t notice what “Kidnapped” is missing until well after it’s over – the characters, bad and good, all radiate an intelligence about what they’re doing that masks the fact they’re mostly variations on types we’ve seen many times before, the film is based in real time, but doesn’t work against a ticking clock, and up until the climax, much of its violence is inflicted psychologically rather than physically. Although I was mildly disappointed in the film’s ending, not because it betrays the spirit of what came before, but its tidiness wasn’t particularly satisfying, “Kidnapped” is such a display of muscular filmmaking that its shortcomings as a sophisticated drama will just have to cede to its impressiveness as a taut thriller. (The film’s brutality also raises the questions about audience complicity that Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games” was intended to address without the wink; the idea that “Kidnapped” was made as an exposé of the very real problem of home invasions in Spain seems a bit opportunistic at best.)

As I overheard when the audience staggered out of the screening I saw, when someone heard his friend hadn’t made it into see “Kidnapped,” he didn’t even ask what he saw in its place, simply patting him on the shoulder and saying, “then you saw the wrong film.”

“Kidnapped” is now available on VOD and will open in theaters on June 17th.

Will you want to see “Kidnapped”? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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